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Your Stories Await Telling

Before Secret Meetings...(a continuation of plotting)


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(I did not write in Cat's thread what Buckingham and the King talked about, but it's been hanging around in my notebook ever since, so I decided to finish the conversation)


Just because His Majesty wouldn't subject the Duke of Buckingham to a (potentially) cranky toddler in the earlier parts of the morning, did not mean he would not subject George to himself in the earlier hours. Like most who had been raised together, there was a childlike enjoyment for him in pestering the other. So he left Captain Herbert with the Duke's servants in the parlour and proceeded into the still-sleeping Buckingham's bedchamber. 


He almost felt a twinge of guilt. Unlike most he knew the reasons for the Duke's late hours, and they weren't solely because of revelry, fucking, or late-night science-y meetings. George had been a fitful sleeper since his experiences at war long ago and could only sleep once exhausted into it. Having shared a bed enough times, he knew about the nightmares too. 


However, he didn't feel that much guilt. So he crept closer to the soft snores, daintily pulled the bedcurtain away, and then flopped onto the bed with all his weight right next to the sleeping duke. 


There was a sharp gasp-like snore, then a groan, and finally a groggy, "If you think that's a funny way to wake me for this damnable meeting, Francis, check your license."


Charles roared with laughter and when he could finally stop, bleary-eyed George had raised his silver-blond shorn head from the pillow.


"Egads, you idiot! You truly think that cub would jump on your bed!" The king snickered. "I'm sure he doesn't even sit without your leave! He polished up remarkably quickly." He shimmied his body into the pillows and feathered bed below, "I should have taken your bed Saturday night, it's much more comfortable."


"Must you be so...cheery?"


"Maybe you should check your license!" he replied in a singsong way.


This made Buckingham laugh, which in turn made Charles laugh. "You're only allowed to drunkenly fuck in my bed if we're both drunkenly fucking women in my bed," George said, sitting up some. 


"And I'm cheery because I've been up for hours already, had a good long walk. Saw said cub with his yacht and that German princeling. I almost have half a mind to make it your new mission to loosen him up like you did William that one time."


"That time he got so drunk and lusty he was banging on the door to the ladies-in-waiting and scared them so badly you yelled at me for doing too good a job?"***


"Let no man say you cannot rise to any task set to you by your King!" He snickered. "But perhaps not like that."


"Perhaps not at all. It may not be in anyone's interest. Have you not noticed?" George fully sat up against the pillows and bellowed, "COFFEEEEE!" After all, Charles had clearly prevented his servants from entering.


Charles covered the nearest ear and glared. Softening, he asked the question the Duke's statement begged, "Noticed? Noticed what?"


"The cub and the prince's sister."


With an omnipotent tone, Charles replied, "Oh, I know they are friendly. The ladies all like his gentle demeanor, that's why I put him to the uses I do. He can properly behave himself and throw a fuck-party on a yacht...Most of the others can't be arsed in the deportment department." Charles snorted with amusement. "What of it? They play that German game whilst I see Karoline."


Buckingham snorted himself and rolled his eyes. "The girl barely said a word all night but stole glances at Francis when her brother was looking the other way, and the Queen shared some pitiable look with her while the cub served her a drink."


Charles blinked. "Oh!" Then he blinked again. "Oh! You think...You think she fancies him!"


Buckingham took a deep breath and pursed his lips. 


"Sweet Lord! You think they fancy each other!" Charles said. "Odds Fish! Truly?!? The boy who has a marked dislike for the entire idea of love? Who has so few affections for a woman aside from gallantry that he's never even taken a mistress?!?"


It was a concise and apt description. George had to concede that. One could say a family affliction was for love. Perhaps even a love for princesses. Francis had seemingly not caught that Villiers sickness, but perhaps - in truth - he had.


"He has not said so, if that is what you are fishing for," George replied. His valet brought two steaming mugs of coffee, and he waved the man right back out after receiving them. "You know Francis, he would think her far above his station and the entire thing inappropriate. He has been...despondent since this broadsheet business but especially so after Ru summoned him the other morning after arriving." The duke did not speak his internal worry that perhaps there had been an...indiscretion.


It was not often that Charles was speechless. He was also usually exceedingly perceptive. It was not that he had not thought about who to match Francis with, as he and George had spoken of the fact that the cub needed to marry, or that he had not thought about Dorothea as a high end of the spectrum possibility. It was simply that he had entirely missed they might share an affection more than getting along during their required time together.


"I didn't know Ru summoned him...You think it was about Dorothea?" the King finally asked.


"Well, it wasn't about the yacht race. They spoke of that at the reception. jI cannot imagine it was some pressing naval matter. Whatever it was, it was private."


"Oh, well then. Egads. Yes, best not to...pester the dour princeling. Serious and somewhat tedious though he may be." He sighed in contemplation as they sipped coffee with their backs against the pillow. "Rupert is blunt and practical and has a regard for Kingston. He would give the cub advice in...German matters."


The duke nodded. "And as it stands only you and I...well, and James...know the truth of matters. I suspect Francis will tell Ru, if he hasn't already. The Colonel was close to Rupert, and Francis understands family loyalties, and he also knows Ru let me and Frank fight with him at Lichfield when we were wet behind the ears."


"You are right. Francis won't allow it to reach a point where he feels he is lying to Ru. He knows how to have fun and make light, but he is properly honorable, and he's shown Rupert as much reverence as he’s shown the rest of us. Rupert is the only one of us who doesn't know and that won't stand for long."


George nodded. Francis was not a difficult man to understand. It was better for Francis to tell Rupert for that very reason. It was the respectful thing to do, and it was best for Francis to navigate that himself in deference to Cumberland. It would be better received.


Charles then added, "So...in reality...nobody knows Francis could be an acceptable match, perhaps on the lower end of what could be available to her, but not a mesalliance, aside from us. I do not think there are that many German princes who are unmarried." He knew because he had plenty of daughters, and while his natural daughters  might be a stretch for a German princeling, it did not mean he had not contemplated all the possibilities. "The first non-royal duchess of the realm would not be such a dip."


George scoffed and thwapped the king across the chest, "Don't be killing me off already!"


With a laugh, the not-so-kingly king said, "Would that I could be so fortunate! Trust me, I know I'll not be rid of you so easily."


 Buckingham glowered dramatically and then smiled, returning to the heart of the matter with princesses and princelings and one blond cub. "But not with this slandering. And not without my surname."


"It is a mess..." Charles agreed. "Did you have a course of action in mind? I should ask Karoline about the girl...in my own curiosity..."


"A course of action? In regard to the two of them and this German prince? You have placed the cub in a situation to ingratiate himself to the princeling, so I plan to let Francis do what Francis does; if he wins the margrave over with his own bearing that would be for the best. He knows how to behave and how to make friends."


Charles snorted. "He does." Unlike Buckingham, whose princely bearing and license tended to bother every other peer threatened by it, Francis had a greater dose of kindness and humility. "If he can please my wife, he can please any German," Charles chortled. Karoline was difficult in many ways for a gentleman, especially an English gentleman. "He reminds me so greatly of your brother. It is like a chance to see how he might have been if not for his death...and he does good for you."


Buckingham nodded quietly, fighting the competing desires of speaking about his brother and the pain of speaking of him. In the end he opted for his typical humor to fight off the tides of depressive notions "You mean he does good for me because he mitigates my ability to damn everything and do as I please."


A bark of amusement was the first half of the reply. Then, "He makes you have to think about what comes after you, and that does make you exercise your better judgement." There was a pregnant pause, coupled with a look, and then a hand dramatically over his heart, "For which your king is eternally grateful."


"Pah," Buckingham replied. "Of the many things I could say, I will let it be. It's too early in the morning. I'll leave contradicting royalty for later in the day."


"When you can put your full energy into it?" 


They both laughed.

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